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Indonesian Islamic school faces desecration backlash

Town mayor vows to close school and prosecute teachers after children vandalize 12 Christian graves
Indonesian Islamic school faces desecration backlash

Mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka (third right) inspects vandalized Christian tombs on June 21 in Kenteng in Solo city in Central Java province. (Photo: Surakarta government) 

Published: June 22, 2021 09:09 AM GMT
Updated: June 22, 2021 09:17 AM GMT

The mayor of a town in Indonesia’s Central Java province has vowed to shut down an Islamic school after a group of its students was accused of desecrating Christian graves in a cemetery.

Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the mayor of Solo, made the vow after inspecting the damage at the cemetery in the Kenteng area of the city on June 21.

Local media reports said 10 students aged 5-12 from the Islamic school — which was not named — broke off crosses of 12 Christian graves in the public cemetery on June 19.

During the visit, the mayor laid the blame on the school and its teachers 

“We will close the school and dismiss its teachers because they are teaching intolerance to their students,” Raka told reporters after the visit.

Raka, who is also the son of Indonesian President Joko Widodo, said the school doesn't have a permit from the local government and was in violation of the law. 

It has become an urgent necessity for the government to weed out radicalism in all schools

He urged police to prosecute the teachers and punish the students despite them being children. “Their actions were a gross act of intolerance,” he said.

Ustad Mujair, the school’s head, denied teaching intolerance or that teachers encouraged the children to vandalize the graves.

Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, described the incident as disturbing and warned that radical groups were targeting children with their intolerant rhetoric. 

“It has become an urgent necessity for the government to weed out radicalism in all schools,” Naipospos told UCA News.  

Father Antonius Benny Susetyo, a member of a presidential unit promoting communal tolerance, said the instigators in this case had demonstrated a clear lack of morality.

“Punishment should be directed against who told or inspired the children to destroy these graves,” he told UCA News, adding he fully supports the mayor’s response to close the school and seek the prosecution of the teachers.

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